MARKET WATCH: Crude oil prices rise on lower-than-expected API inventory

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Light, sweet crude oil prices gained on the New York market Feb. 20 while the American Petroleum Institute estimated a limited increase in US crude oil supplies. The US Energy Information Administration was scheduled to release its inventory on Feb. 21.

EIA’s inventory comes a day later than normal because of the Feb. 19 Presidents Day holiday.

API reported its own inventory showed an estimated rise of 1.26 million bbl for the week ended Feb. 15. A Bloomberg survey of analysts showed they expected oil supplies to have risen by 3.1 million bbl.

Separately, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said earlier this week that the cartel continues to operate normally despite US sanctions placed on its president, Manuel Quevedo. He recently started a 1-year term as OPEC president.

OPEC has pledged to cut production by 800,000 b/d this year as part of an agreement with Russia and other non-OPEC producers. Together, the producers agreed to cut production by a total of 1.2 million b/d.

Quevedo, also president of state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, is accused of being part of a state-run corruption that allegedly took government money for personal gain. He also is Venezuela’s oil minister and a member of President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet. In January, US President Donald Trump’s administration stopped recognizing Maduro as the country’s president, instead backing opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The US Treasury Department recently said Quevedo’s position in Venezuela is “illegitimate.”

Energy prices

The March contract for light, sweet crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 83¢ to settle at $56.92/bbl on Feb. 20. The contract for April delivery rose 71¢ to settle at $57.16/bbl.

NYMEX natural gas for March decreased by 2¢ to a rounded $2.64/MMbtu on Feb. 20.

Ultralow-sulfur diesel for March gained 2¢ to a rounded $2.02/gal. The NYMEX reformulated gasoline blendstock for March increased 3¢ to a rounded $1.59/gal.

Brent crude for April delivery gained 63¢ to settle at $67.08/bbl while the May contract climbed 66¢ to settle at $67.13/bbl. The gas oil contract for March rose $6 to $616.50/tonne on Feb. 20.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of crudes was $65.97/bbl on Feb.20, up 16¢.

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